Access in Sonoma County

I received this question about Sonoma Access in the context of the buying of local hotels for the most frail individuals who are homeless (see below). The article says that the Azura homeless residents will have access to something called “ACCESS”.   This post explains the terms and programs.

Before I go into that I want to point out that this proposal allows the County to have housing units at just 36% of the cost of what “regular” Affordable Housing costs us now.

“The $8 million acquisition of the 44-room Hotel Azura was made through the state’s Project Homekey program, established in June in response to the COVID-19 health emergency.  Officials said the hotel on Healdsburg Avenue would be converted into interim housing for up to 66 individuals when escrow is closed, possibly by next week.”

$8,000,000.00 for 44 units  is $181,818.18 per unit.  Affordable Housing developers like EAH, Burbank, etc. are building full size apartments for approximately $500,000.00 per unit.  So, although less in size, the cost comes in at just 36.36% of more expensive affordable housing.


Here’s some information to help you understand the “Access” programs. 

Sonoma County has three (3) distinct activities which are referred to as “Access”.

There is the high level management group which tries to integrate County Safety Net programs at the County Administrator’s Office (CAO office).

There is the Behavioral Health Access Team which is the more historic and traditional “Access Team” (Health Services Behavioral Health division)

There is a transit related Access project for seniors and folks with disabilities. (Area Agency on Aging) Sonoma Access (senior transit)


I am going to talk here about ACCESS as it relates to the Behavioral Health Access Team but you can read about Management Leadership here:


The Behavioral Health Access team – 565-6900 or 800-870-8786 is the screening process then service delivery for people with behavioral health challenges.

“Our multidisciplinary teams provide these services:


The Behavioral Health Department is also the umbrella for an effort of departmental collaboration called the IMDT:

The Interdepartmental Multi-Disciplinary Team (“IMDT”) model overcomes the issues of program silos by allowing County Departments, Agencies and Community Service Providers to share information about shared clients. The IMDT consists of frontline staff: clinicians, social workers, Adult Protective Service workers, probation officers, housing specialist and eligibility workers who work to collaboratively coordinate care and goals to address the holistic needs of the vulnerable residents they serve.”

The difference between the Behavioral Health Access Team and the IMDT is related to where in the process the person being served is. The Access team as described above works with people with chronic and persistent behavioral health issues that need to be served over the long term.  The IMDT team as described is related to screening and introducing individuals to the right level of service.  The web site explains each “cohort”.

IMDT has six cohorts, teams that work with specific groups of people.  They are Emergency Rapid Response, High Needs Homeless, Emergency Department High Utilizers, Mental Health Diversion, Homeless Encampment Access & Resource Team (HEART), and COVID-19-Vulnerable.

In gradients of increasing support and services:  The HEART team (Homeless Encampment Access & Resource Team) works with people who have no home or residence. They work closely with community nonprofits as well as the HOST team (HOST is Homeless Outreach Services Team, which is most closely associated with the City of Santa Rosa and Catholic Charities) HOST is sponsored by the City of Santa Rosa and the Water Agency as well as the Community Development Commission (CDC).

Another stage is what we used to call Whole Person Care (WPC) and which is now referred to as the High Needs Homeless (HNH) program.  People in that genre have specific qualifications designated by the funding source. The Whole Person Care program is a state funded program in multiple counties throughout California.  The criteria for that are: first of all, the person is on Medi-Cal, second they are homeless, and, third, they have a chronic and persistent behavioral health issues and meet one of several other criteria. These criteria include frequent use of health care resources, substance use disorders, or criminal justice involvement.

High Needs Homeless staff persons do outreach and engagement to qualify people and then passes people forward to Intensive Case Management (ICM). ICM lasts for a period of time until the issues are resolved – for example the person is set up with therapy or healthcare or housing or SSI.  In many instances they are passed along to the regular Behavioral Health Access team for ongoing care and case management. Each of these programs has various arrangements with community providers.

A critical aspect of the whole person care project (now “High Needs Homeless”) was it developed the interdepartmental multidisciplinary team (IMDT) with a very specialized release of information (ROI).

I have been a social worker since 1983 and what has been done with the IMDT in Sonoma County (as well as in other communities) is truly an innovation and a resource which is very valuable to the individuals they serve.

Through the County’s IMDT team program they are able to have cohorts of individuals that they are following and who can be discussed with the rest of the community providers on the Team.  Notably, all participants are asked to sign the ROI mentioned because everyone must respect the person’s confidentiality.

The HEART group has a weekly meeting on Tuesday; and the HNH (High Needs Homeless) group has a weekly meeting every Wednesday in which people from multiple agencies can talk about specific individuals and plan for their care.

It’s hard to understand the inner workings of most social service agencies but I can best describe it by talking about some of what happens in the meetings.  Usually there are staff people from the health care clinics (such as West County, Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa community health).  There are also people from the nonprofit organizations who are part of the release of information and there are people from the public defenders or the human services department or the probation department; all of whom are concerned with the same group of people. The discharge planners from the jail are also regular and very important participants. 

In this way if someone has been in and out of jail multiple times and has not been connected with services all of these folks can talk about what to do next. Another practical thing that happens is that the healthcare providers are able to tell the other service providers when the individual has their next healthcare appointment and then the HNH or HEART staff or others who are working with that person can help them get to their healthcare appointments.

This is all within the confidentiality “bubble” and with great respect for the individual’s rights and expectations. If you have done any work in mental health or human services in California you know that confidentiality is by far one of the most important things we are concerned about.  The only thing that’s more important is the well-being of the individual and their right to decide what they do.

The IMDT process as developed under Whole Person Care phase and the leadership of the County has developed a very practical way to serve the highest needs users. This is important because the highest needs users are also the most fragile people in the community and they are the most expensive users of multiple resources.


For our community, the value of group housing or intermediate housing as described in the hotels that are currently being bought serves individuals. Giving a person a pillow and door is a first step in actually helping them. For many years various advocates in the community have both accepted the Housing First concept that’s a national concept, and have complained about Housing First concept because of problems created by the lack of follow up services.  What we have now in our homeless services system is the opportunity to fully realize one of the aspirations of Housing First. The promise of Housing First was that once you got people housed, then you could work with them closely to resolve multiple problems that might have brought them to become homeless.

The holistic Continuum of Care board (CoC) is charged with coordinating all of these activities in a community. The CoC is a federally required decision making group because the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department is a primary funding source. It is in the interests of the people who have no homes and the people who serve them in the entire community to understand that we are at a very useful point.

There is an opportunity because of COVID-19 and the necessity to place people into special non-congregate shelters (NCS), as well as upgrade and modify of the congregate shelters such as Mary Isaac at COTS in Petaluma and Catholic Charities.  We have a very clear sense of who the highest needs users are and most importantly what those particular individuals think they need. I hope we can build on this opportunity.

Some important follow up questions:

Do community providers believe that their clients are being served by all this focus?  

Do the clients believe they are being helped by all this focus?

Can the County incorporate some numbers about the number of people who’ve experienced life changes due to the efforts to these teams?

And can we verify the answers to these questions?

Good questions, but we should start by giving credit where it is due… and learn from this new access we have.


Original article

Santa Rosa Hotel Acquired Through Project Homekey as Transitional Housing

Hotel Azura in Santa Rosa will be converted into interim housing for up to 66 individuals.

By Bay City News  Published November 11, 2020  Updated on November 11, 2020 at 9:02 am  Copyright BAYCN – Bay City News

The purchase of a Santa Rosa hotel to provide temporary housing for vulnerable people lacking shelter was approved Tuesday by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

The $8 million acquisition of the 44-room Hotel Azura was made through the state’s Project Homekey program, established in June in response to the COVID-19 health emergency.

Officials said the hotel on Healdsburg Avenue would be converted into interim housing for up to 66 individuals when escrow is closed, possibly by next week.

“Adding Hotel Azura into our housing portfolio will give us the opportunity to bring more of our COVID-19 vulnerable individuals who are experiencing homelessness into supportive housing, with a path to permanent housing,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin. “I applaud the state for helping counties pursue housing that truly meets people’s needs, with supportive services and access to grocery stores, medical services and transportation.”

Priority access to the accommodations will go to those who are homeless and are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Those housed at the hotel will have also receive assistance from the county’s Accessing Coordinated Care to Empower Self Sufficiency Initiative (ACCESS) program that uses county and community programs to provide needed resources.

ACCESS services include primary health care, behavioral health services and support, economic and food assistance, and employment training.

Supervisors on Tuesday also approved the purchase of the Sebastopol Inn in Sebastopol, but that acquisition is pending state approval of funding.

Sonoma County Post Non Congregate Housing Planning June 6. 2020 ideas

Post Non Congregate Housing Planning
June 6, 2020

I wrote this before the County proposed their ideas for Tuesday. I think/hope it compliments the new ides for July 7. I especially like the lowest cost option Norton Hall in Attachment 5, of Item 34

This is an important and complex issue. It seems that the actual and most viable approach would be to develop a comprehensive plan using the existing homeless service providers and the existing behavioral health residential providers and develop a thoughtful integrated and transparent strategy which those organizations staff and maintain over time.

The key questions that need to be answered are:
• How many people are we trying to secure stable housing for?
• How much rent can people afford to pay given their disability payments?
• What kind of supportive services are available in the present structure that could be extended to these residences?
• Can a viable public-private partnership step up to solve the housing problem for the most vulnerable people right now?
• What agencies or contacts should develop this plan?

The needed housing to disband the non congregate shelters includes:

80 people from Sonoma State University
60 people from the Los Guillicos encampment
30 people from the Astro Motel
20 people at the trailers at the fairgrounds
60 people from the Finley Center
50 people from the Sandman Motel

300 => This is a real opportunity to help the most vulnerable high needs homeless because now all of these people are known to the system along with what their needs are and they are all in the same place, NCS.

It is critical to remember that 300 is only 10% of the total homeless population of Sonoma County. Yet, the 3,000 homeless people are only 3% of the 95,000 people in the county who live on Social Security, SSDI and SSI in Sonoma County.

Input to Planning

It would be useful to solicit input from all the agencies in this space. CDC Home Sonoma has all of their contact information. In addition, the advocacy groups such as Homeless Action! and CANS and the Squeaky Wheel Coalition could be offered the opportunity to give ideas. It will be crucial that the business and investment community, represented through the Economic Development Board, take ownership of this problem.

I believe going through these processes will generate viable ideas, and, more importantly, draw support because input was solicited. Inviting input in this new way may invite concurrence as we move forward and avoid public disgruntlement. If we give people a chance to weigh in, they are far less likely to throw weight around later if the solutions are not to their liking.

Process ideas
I think a well done Survey Monkey would be convenient and effective. Survey Monkey results are easy to aggregate and share.


The possible locations for moving people are limited. One of the problems that has plagued homeless services in Sonoma County has been the need to increase the occupancy of the main shelters at Sam Jones and Mary Isaac center particularly in the winter. This is not viable if we are moving to a permanent affordable resolution.

In the NCS circumstances we now have the most vulnerable people in our project and we should take advantage of this because we know the most vulnerable people are the most expensive users of services. Good planning for them now is assumed to save money in the long run. We should be able to address this as a justification for placing people in more stable housing.

A key consideration in creating long-term stable encampments (most refer to this as the indoor outdoor shelter) is the level of security and oversight which is currently in place. The fact that it is been determined to be necessary in these instances to have fences and full-time staff and full time security personnel as well as very strict residence guidelines, such as curfews, is a cost factor. A key question is – Can a shelter be operated simply by the staff without the necessity for the fencing and the security guards? Can we respect people’s rights as adults to self determination?

Also, at the end of this NCS, the actual costs will be very well articulated because we just spent that money in current situation. We can compare the costs of the various NCS sites.

The available locations (considerations)

If the county is insistent on using existing County property the identified property from the inventories done over the last couple of years is the inventory we have available. Of all of the spaces which I know only the fairgrounds is the most accessible either next to the trailers or in some aspect of the veterans building property north of the freeway

• The fairground location is County property – the current location of the trailers has a large amount of space there that would allow the movement of the Los Guilicos encampment to that location.
• The Los Guilicos encampment could remain where it is however its location is a problem due to the isolation.
• There is a location to the south of the Mary Isaac Center which the City of Petaluma and COTS have been discussing considering an indoor outdoor shelter
• Another alternative would be to work with the private landowner to lease space for the parking of RVs and the placement of the Los Guilicos house pallet structures.
• The county was in conversation at one point considering the motel (which is currently boarded up) across the street from the Astro Motel.
• The City of Santa Rosa Senior Center on Bennett Valley Road is also under discussion by the city, but for what use is unclear whether it would be a homeless shelter or long-term development, this was a consideration at the time when they HEAP money was available
• Finally, the untried solution is the one which has been developed by Sonoma Applied Village Services, commonly known as SAVS. They have a plan for tiny villages with tiny houses or large tents or recreational vehicles all in multiple managed properties in different parts of the county. Some properties have been identified.

A good example of this that’s working is the Sebastopol campground/RV Park run by West County Services on the eastern edge of Sebastopol at Highway 12.

Residential Community Houses discussion

The funding used for No Place Like Home involving the purchase of the houses in Cotati and Santa Rosa is also a major resource. A key idea in this realm is to question whether or not the county needs to fully expend the funds to actually purchase the homes.

One idea would be to collaborate with residential investors wherein the residential investors purchase the home and the county contributes the down payment sufficiently that the payments available from the residents (typically disability payments), cover a sufficient part of the payments to make it viable. The county would write contracts with the investors wherein the county funds would be an equity share of the residence for a set period of time such as 10 or 12 years. At the end of that time the investors could repurpose the property or sell the property and the county would then, as an equity stakeholder, get its share of the funds as well as any accrued value back into the homeless and housing system. That would also give organizations 10 to 12 years to prepare to purchase already functioning residential homes. In doing this, perhaps, the $500,000+ amount could go towards four different houses instead of one single house because you’re leveraging private dollars and county puts in 20-25%.

This also is a ripe opportunity for legislative change which would allow special tax benefits similar to the affordable housing tax benefits which large developers get. Legislation could be developed which allow this kind of an arrangement to have similar benefits for the investors thus attracting multiple investors for a segment of the population that needs permanent supportive housing.

A grand plan for community houses and permanent supportive houses would have the high needs population served by a network of group homes and independent living homes which was sufficiently large so that individuals could move among the homes by virtue of their membership in a special program. If it was possible to purchase 20 to 30 to 40 houses it would be amazing. At 4 to 8 people per house that would house between 80 and 320 people. If we develop a model of the County using $12.5 million to leverage $50 million in private investment then we would have homes for 320 people

The cost of the current Affordable Housing Development model would be $160 million to house the same number of people. (@ $500,000 per unit and 6-12 years to completion)

A key question in the world of community housing and shared housing is the degree of oversight and support required. You can assume that there are variety of people who could live perfectly fine by themselves given a structure and a contract and a process of recruitment into each house. You can also be certain that at least two thirds of the 320 people need some kind of ongoing support. The question there is how much support and how periodic? Once a homeless person is stably housed, if they have the right kind of support, you can expect some stability but you can also guarantee crisis and instability periodically for any given person. Thus, our experienced BH housing providers must have adequate staffing to support people.

A key question about the inventory issue is how many for the 4 to 8 bedroom houses are there available to be purchased. This is a deceptive question in that if you can find homes with 3 to 4 bedrooms on property you can add accessory dwelling units or tiny homes to get up to the eight bed goal. Once the residence gets above a certain size; and that size may be just six residents rather than eight, there are other expected complexities that are directly related to the sheer number of people interacting with each other on a regular basis.

A key consideration in housing network of this kind is to assure an occupancy rate that leaves sufficient empty beds so that when problems develop, or new individuals come on the scene, there is a place for them to stay before they are inducted into their permanent residence. There are multiple organizations in Sonoma County who have experience in doing this but do not have the capacity to provide it on a regular basis. In other words, you need extra bedrooms to managed the predictable fluctuations.

If structured in a particular way a residential real estate investment trust or fund could be created so that large institutional investors such as unions, pension funds, and municipalities could invest in these trusts. If the return on investment (or tax incentives) is secured then there is an unlimited amount of money available.

The county has large investment dollars which they are responsible for. Could these investment dollars be used to invest in a fund that builds housing? Similarly, Union Pension funds have major investment dollars. The Providence Hospital organization which holds the controlling interest in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has reportedly $13 billion in reserves which are in investments somewhere. And any of the major banks or credit unions also have investment funds which could be appropriately use to secure residential housing for very low income people, low income people, and market rate housing. The creativity in addressing the various models available while securing a stable supply of affordable housing.

This all reflects my opening comment that this is a complex problem, however, if we are not going to do this then we are planning to fail.

No Name Women’s group 02/24/20

Wisdom of Sophia

The wisdom of white hair streaked with Gray.
Sophia and Sophia’s sister,
Sophia, along with another Sophia
Sisters in spirit and
Wisdom embodied with spirit
looking forward
Wisdom coming together is a powerful thing
Wonderful women

No Name Women’s (NNW) group

Our host, Susan Moore, the “Late Winter Chicken” with clear leadership credibility.  Susan periodically organizes public forums to discuss issues of interest and concern.  February 24, 2020 she gathered a group of knowledgeable people to discuss the issues with homelessness.


Supervisor Susan Gorin described her understanding of homelessness

Jack Tibbets executive director of Society of Saint Vincent de Paul which is staffing the Los Guilicos sanctioned encampment => which only gets to stay there until April 30th and then has to move

Two wise young men Chris Rogers and Jack Tibbitts.

Chris Rogers said, “Well, ‘one size fits all’ does not work.”

Shelley Clark, Housing Policy Attorney, Legal Aid of Sonoma County

Jared Garrison-Jakel, M.D.
Third Street

Cited the triad of: Adverse childhood experiences (ACES), Substance abuse, and poverty as key features of individuals who are homeless.
Emphasized the “individual” as the subject of concern and compassion.
Look at barriers to accessing services. We need to be concerned about “safety first” before “Housing First”

Your County supervisor, Lynda Hopkins.  Lynda addresses the crowd discussing that we cannot allow hate to take root in our community.  If we have dignity we can have a holistic countywide effort to house everyone.

 The hand off from Lynda to Teddy

Teddie Pierce, founder of Decipher HMIS described how other communities are applying business level resources to local problems.  Her travels as an independent homeless systems consultant afford a broad view of how communities can structure their management response from a systems level.

   Attentive ones

Rebecca Kendall, Catholic Charities described launching Caritas Village

Jenni Klose, executive director, Generation Housing.

Chris Coursey, newspaper professional, former mayor of Santa Rosa, candidate for Sonoma County Supervisor 3rd district

  Supervisor Hopkins  responding to questions.

20200224 Adrienne Lauby

Adrienne Lauby
At the center of our hopes and sorrows
she carries them with us
and lets them be carried off

Adrienne’s homeless action leadership has led to the attention given now to the needs of people who are without homes.

Here’s Adrienne and her crew behind the Dollar Tree store

Embers glowing for a year – Memories of the Sonoma County Wildfire 2017

Embers glowing for a year.  My thoughts today go out to all our neighbors who suffered from the Wildfire.  I lost a house full of memories.  It was the place where my dear Anne died.  I had moved to Petaluma so  bore less loss than so many others.  A key thing for which I am grateful is that I did not lose my art;  I know several accomplished artists who lost their body of work.  They are on my mind today. 

I remain on the Hidden Valley list serve. All the stages of grief and tedium can be found in the e-mails shared, 1,208 or 3.3 e-mails per day.  A review shows the path of grief, recovery, and determination of my neighbors.

I have deep appreciation for all our political leaders whom I watched in the midst of the Wildfire.  For a year they have dedicated themselves to large and small efforts to serve the people of our community.  They deserve our appreciation.  I want to say they worked tirelessly, but I know they worked whether they were tired or not. Thank you.

Although I am appreciative of the first responders who did their jobs, I miss the appreciation that should be given to the second responders.  There are a great number of County employees, City employees, and people who work for other jurisdictions who worked for the entire fire, and now the entire year, serving with dedication and effectiveness.  I know hundreds of people who work in services through our non profits and I recognize many business people who have stepped up to help.  Our shared recovery and individual well-being were greatly enhanced by the millions of dollars in generous contributions.  Our society has a culture of heroes which should include each of us who assured that love was thicker than smoke.

I mourn for those who died.  This was one of life’s great tragedies which will carry down through generations among their families and friends.  I was at the emergency operations center and took some of the calls where the deaths were reported.  These neighbors and friends bore the greatest cost of this tragedy. 

Although the embers are now ash, it is right to call to mind the goodness of our people who responded when we were all in need.

Poetry from the fire 

Among the flame then ash

A measure of time


Fire photos

My house’s ashes


A list of homeless and housing reports about Sonoma County November 2017

This is not a full list but it is a notable summary.  I imagine the solution could be crowd sourced if anyone wanted to thoroughly study all these and give some new insights or actionable steps.

Recently there have been some very significant reports about homelessness issued concerning Sonoma County.

These include:

  • a bay area overview
  • The Homeless Talk focus group report
  • the League of Women Voters report
  • the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors’ project to reform the Continuum of Care.
In addition to that, just prior to the Sonoma County fires (October 2017)  the homeless system was completely changed to create the Coordinated Entry System(staffed by Catholic Charities). Before that, the City of Santa Rosa changed the way homeless were treated with infractions and misdemeanors and they County and Santa Rosa advocated a Housing First model.
Good overview
SPUR – The Urbanist – Homelessness in the Bay Area
Homeless Talk => [see bottom of page]
Affordable Housing and Homelessness in Sonoma County
Homeless Policy Workshop Sonoma BOS August 22, 2017
homeless were treated with infractions and misdemeanors
Housing First model.
Iain De Jong has been a key consultant in Santa Rosa
In 2016 the held the Homes for All Summit
2017 Homeless Count Results
Survey 2016 Showing public understanding of housing – The last few questions are “fun”

Safe Parking Program – Summary

Homeless Action is a group of individuals who are striving to explore practical short and long term solutions to the needs of our sisters and brothers who do not have decent housing.

See also the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless and the county Continuum of Care for thorough coverage of these issues.

This was the original concept of Safe Parking.  Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa has developed this into a program described here.

The Press Democrat April 15, 2014 

What is Safe Parking?
Homeless individuals often find it necessary to sleep in their vehicles when there are no other alternatives. However, sleeping in vehicles on the street is frequently either prohibited by law or is unsafe.

The immediate objective of Safe Parking is to provide safe places to park and sleep so that participants are not in danger of citation or harassment. The long-term goal of Safe Parking is to assist participants in securing permanent housing.

How it Works:
Generally, the spaces at each site are limited in number and are specifically designated. Pre-screened participants are assigned a specific spot and, in the case of private locations, are given placards to display on their vehicles. Participants follow rules about arrival and departure times, personal behavior and care of the site and any facilities they have been given access to (such as bathrooms). The emphasis is on maintaining a low-profile that does not impact other operations at the site or disturb its neighbors.

Public Spaces: A county or city may designate a publically-owned property for Safe Parking. This can be for a limited or extended period of time and can be administered by itself or by another agency. Here in Sonoma County, such a pilot program is underway (Winter 2014) at the Fairgrounds where 50 spaces have been set aside and are being administered by Catholic Charities.

Private Spaces: Churches, non-profits and businesses may also allow Safe Parking on their properties. The number of spaces offered at each location is generally fewer than at public locations–usually one to seven–depending on the site. Permitted hours of parking and other rules are tailored to meet the requirements of the specific site or business. Some businesses and organizations allow Safe Parking on an informal basis; some establish a relationship with a specific social service and provide spaces only to its clients; and others participate in centralized programs where help is offered to participants from the entire community.  See here.

Centralized Safe Parking Programs: A Centralized Safe Parking Program can serve either public or private sites or both. In such programs, screening is an important component of the process. Prospective participants do not come directly to the sites but apply with the administering agency. The agency’s counselors evaluate the participants’ needs, determine what other social services might be of benefit to them and decide whether the candidates are likely to be successful as Safe Parking participants. Only then are individuals directed to the parking site. Likewise, the agency is available to follow up if problems arise. In Santa Rosa, Catholic Charities has been selected to play this administrating role.

If You Participate:
If you or your organization is considering participating, you will have many questions and concerns not addressed in this over-view. We would be happy to meet with you to answer your questions and shape a program that works for your site. Thank you for considering being a Safe Parking provider.

Sonoma County Private Safe Parking Program

Concept paper


Due to concern expressed by many people in our county, the Sonoma County Task Force on the Homeless and a related group, Homeless Action! sought new solutions for shelter and other help for our county’s 4,200 homeless people. One solution is to operate a program to provide safe overnight parking on private property for individuals and families who are living in their vehicles. There is a separate and similar effort to develop a parking model on Public Property (e.g. County or City).
This document as well as the related information for the participants outlines how private parking places may be provided for vehicle dwellers.


Private property owners can give written permission for homeless people to sleep on their property without any concern for laws that affect vehicle use on streets and other public areas.
The program envisions various organizations, such as congregations and businesses, offering spaces at dispersed locations in the greater Sonoma County area. Your organization could be one of those who offer free nightly parking for one to four vehicles. (It was recommended by the program in San Luis Obispo to keep the number small for any one location for such a private property program.) Your organization could provide the level of stability needed by vehicle dwellers to effectively make positive changes in their lives and become re-employed and re-housed as quickly as possible. In addition to parking, homeless service providers in Sonoma County will offer some social services and case management to help them achieve this end.


Churches, non-profits and businesses interested in participating in the program agree to a basic set of rules for the vehicle dwellers on their property. The participating institutions are free to augment or edit the rules as they see fit in accordance with County and/or City codes.

Homeless individuals seeking to participate in this program will receive an initial assessment provided by a local homeless service provider. Local service providers may also work with these individuals as clients to establish long-term goals and housing plans.

If no service provider is available, your church, organization or business can screen people. Typical screening discussions for parking space include the following:

  • Does the person without shelter understand and agree to work within the guidelines of this program?
  • Is there is a desire to work with local social service agencies?

After the intake, the participant will be issued a signed placard with a copy of the guidelines and allowed to park overnight at an assigned location.

There is no formal limit to the amount of time that a participant may occupy a site. That is something each parking site sponsor can determine. Some participants will take advantage of the service for a short period of time; others occupy a parking space for up to a year or more, depending on their needs. Participants who are not willing to abide by the rules of the program, may be referred to social service agencies rather than offered a parking site.

A sample of rules / guidelines is included below.

If your organization is interested in this concept then Homeless Action members can send some suggestions for the Parking site sponsor to select the specific spaces in their lot, how many, safety considerations, etc.


In addition to these rules, all clients should be asked to sign a release of information and a waiver of liability towards your organization, indicating that neither party is responsible for damages to the vehicle, and allowing us to share client information.

Liability insurance for each Safe Parking lot location is the purview of the Parking site provider. Consultation with your Insurance provider is recommended.

In closing, we hope you will consider participating in this program. If you have any questions about this introductory packet, please call Adrienne Lauby at (707) 795-2890 and , or Gerry La Londe-Berg at (707)569-4280 and

If your organization would like to communicate with one of our churches or non-profit organizations that are currently working with us we would be happy to connect you with those organizations. It is important to gain various perspectives on the program in order to make a balanced decision that is in the best interest of your organization, while also thinking about the needs of homeless individuals in our community who are forced to live in their vehicles.

Web resources: => A link to a Rolling Stone article about the Santa Barbara Program this Sonoma County plan is modeled on.

The following document will be signed by each person staying at a site.

The parking site provider is only agreeing to give the participants a place to park. Below are the guidelines that the client must agree to in order to participate in the Safe Parking Program.

1. Guns, firearms, or other weapons are prohibited. Failure to abide by this rule will result in immediate removal from the assigned location.
2. Aggressive behaviors such as shouting or physical violence toward others will not be tolerated. Failure to abide by this rule will result in immediate removal from the assigned location. Alcohol and drug use is discouraged.
3. Camping tarps or camping equipment beyond the top of the vehicle are prohibited.
4. Cooking outside the vehicle is absolutely not allowed.
5. All trash will be disposed of either in designated garbage bins or offsite. The area will be kept tidy.
6. Loud music is not permitted.
7. Parking lot spaces are for sleeping use only.
8. Overnight stays will be limited to the hours designated by the host organization. Adherence to in and out times is mandatory.
9. Users must keep barking dogs in their vehicle at all times. Animals must be kept on a leash at all times on the property. Animal waste must be must be picked up immediately and disposed of properly.
10. Under absolutely no conditions will the client(s) invite other vehicle dwellers to occupy the site.
11. If bathroom facilities are provided, showering or bathing is not permitted.
12. The owner of the parking lot is not liable for damages caused by a third party to the parked vehicle or its occupants.
13. Absolutely no more than one vehicle allowed per individual or family staying at the site.
14. Absolutely no use of the facility services without explicit written permission of the owner, i.e., ELECTRICITY, water, trash or any of the hoses at the site. Failure to comply with this rule will result in immediate termination from our program.
15. Please respect the privacy of the surrounding neighbors and their property.
16. Children will be watched and kept safe at All Times — No Exceptions!!!!!
17. Notify us immediately if you are leaving for more than 7 days. If you have been issued a key to a site facility, please return it when you leave.
Failure to comply with these guidelines will result in termination from the Safe Parking Program.

Each local site reserves the right to terminate participation in the Safe Parking Program at any time, for any reason. Warnings may be issued to participants for minor infractions, e.g., leaving the lot late, etc.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the participating providers of parking spaces do not discriminate against people with disabilities. Please discuss your access needs during the intake interview. We will attempt to meet them.

I / We, Accept and agree to respect, acknowledge and adhere to the rules, policy, and procedure; guidelines and regulations that are stated above and will accept full responsibility of the consequences of the outcome if there is a violation to this contract.

(Signature of Participant) (date)

(Signature of Parking Space Provider ) (date)

Without a place to call home in Sonoma County, California

Everyone needs a place to sleep, to prepare food, and to relax to be ready for the next day.

This entry offers an overview of people, their needs and services in Sonoma County, California.

There are three key organizing coalitions who are trying to resolve this problem.

The Sonoma County Task Force on the Homeless

The Sonoma County Community Development Commission and the organizing effort it houses known as the Continuum of Care.

The Continuum of Care is the local manifestation of the federal government’s efforts throughout the country

The appropriate place to start is by watching the most recent report on homelessness in Sonoma County.

Ten Year plan and toolbox.

A PowerPoint is located at So Co Homeless Data Sourcebook 2013.